The St. Louis Blues have big money tied up in defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, which could make Kevin Shattenkirk the odd man out on the blueline. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to consider options for Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel. A flurry of trades involving goaltenders raised questions about two established netminders, while the San Jose Sharks will need to find a keeper to solidify their crease.
Among the interesting rumors to emerge prior to the start of the 2015 NHL Draft weekend was the suggestion St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could be available. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson noted the high payroll being taken up by Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester was behind the Shattenkirk speculation.
At the time, Matheson was wondering if the Blues could trade the 26-year-old Shattenkirk to the Edmonton Oilers for the 16th overall pick. That deal, of course, didn’t materialize, as the Oilers shipped that pick to the New York Islanders as part of a deal for young blueliner Griffin Reinhart. Still, Matheson’s conjecture could raise questions over Shattenkirk’s future with the Blues.
Shattenkirk was on his way to posting career-high numbers when sidelined for 25 games by abdominal surgery. He still managed to collect 44 points in 56 games, with eight more in six playoff games. Shattenkirk also has two years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.25 million and lacks a no-trade clause.
While Shattenkirk’s contract and performance would attract considerable attention in the trade market, GM Doug Armstrong isn’t expected to go that route. It’s assumed Armstrong will move one of his forwards, like T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Armstrong couldn’t find any takers for Oshie and Berglund during the draft weekend. However, teams which fail to sign a scorer via free agency could take another look at the availability of Blues forwards.
In addition to rumblings about Shattenkirk, Oshie and Berglund, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford confirmed Monday that Vladimir Sobotka, the St. Louis Blues pivot who left the club for the KHL last season, will not be returning to the NHL this season. Sobotka left before receiving a contract via arbitration in 2014-15 and still owes the Blues one season of service at the arbitrated rate.
LEAFS LOOKING AT OPTIONS FOR KESSEL, BOZAK
Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak remains fixtures in this year’s NHL rumor mill, but it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs are having trouble finding trade partners. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons claims there’s a thin market for Kessel and no interest in Bozak. Simmons blames the fallout from the Leafs implosion this season.
Along with captain Dion Phaneuf and winger Joffrey Lupul (who’ve also been the target of trade chatter this year), Kessel and Bozak could return with the Leafs in 2015-16. Not due to a lack of effort by management to move these players, but because of their expensive contracts.
The 27-year-old Kessel has seven years remaining on his deal at $8-million annually. Phaneuf has six more years at $7-million annually, Lupul three more at $5.25 million and Bozak three more at $4.2 million. Toss in their various no-trade clauses and inconsistent play, along with the marginal increase in the salary cap, and it’s not surprising there’s little interest in them.
Leafs management might find a trade for one of these guys this summer. Still, don’t be surprised if all four are still in Toronto when the puck drops on a new season come October.
RASK AND GIBSON STAYING PUT
A number of established NHL goaltenders changed teams during the 2015 NHL Draft. Among them was backup Martin Jones moving from the Los Angeles Kings to the Boston Bruins, while the Carolina Hurricanes dealt Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks.
Bruins GM Don Sweeney wasted little time shutting down the Rask speculation, telling TSN’s Darren Dreger he’s not trading the 2014 Vezina winner. Ducks GM Bob Murray bluntly dismissed the notion Gibson was a trade candidate.
CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports the weekend’s goaltending shuffles could leave the San Jose Sharks with few choices via trade to bolster their depth between the pipes. They shipped the rights to former starter Antti Niemi to Dallas, leaving them with backup Alex Stalock and third-stringer Troy Grosenick.
Their options via free agency are slim indeed. With Devan Dubnyk off the market (re-signed over the weekend by the Minnesota Wild) and Niemi gone, Calgary Flames backup Karri Ramo appears the only decent choice available for the Sharks.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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